Summer time . . . . It was a bright and beautiful morning . . . . .
Shin Hye, a young girl about 17 years old, was sitting alone on a bench, when a boy a few years older than her suddenly sat down beside her.
“Hi,” the boy greeted.
She just continued to stare at the boy. She didn't know how to tell him that she couldn't talk. She had been born a mute, and because of her stubbornness she never learned sign language. She was too proud and was too ashamed to admit that she was born with a disability.
“What's your name?” the boy asked again.
She took out the small pad of paper and ball pen in her pocket and started to write her name. Then she gave the piece of paper to the boy.
“Oh! Your name is Shin Hye. Well, I am Max. It's nice to meet you,” the boy said happily as he offered his hand to the girl.
Shin Hye first stared at the boy, then at his hand. Slowly and with a bit of reluctance, she took hold of the boy's hand.
And as they finally shook hands with each other, their new found friendship had suddenly began.
After their first meeting, they instantly became very close friends. They would always meet each other on the same spot . . . . at the same time . . . . every morning.
They never talked about the reasons why they were in the hospital. They already understood each other's situation without even talking about it.
Both of them wanted to be like normal people whenever they were together. They would laugh and joke with one another as if they didn't have any problems.
Shin Hye's inability to speak didn't hinder them in communicating with each other. She would write down everything that she wanted to say and Max would patiently read it.
As time moved on . . . . they both felt that they suddenly found a new source of happiness in their lives . . . . something they can both get strength from . . . . something they can both try to live for.
They knew they were both living in a make-believe world. Whenever they were together, they both pretended to be strong and without any worries.
Days passed by . . . . their friendship had turned into something deeper. They had both fallen in love with each other. But somehow because of their current situations, they both tried to deny their true feelings. Both of them were afraid of what the other might say, if they revealed the truth.
Max was already determined to tell Shin Hye about his true feelings for her. But once he was already with her, he would suddenly lose all his courage, and decide to just wait for another day.
Still days passed by . . . . and Max continued to put his confession off. “Maybe I can tell her . . . . tomorrow,” he would always say to himself.
Until one day . . . . Shin Hye had already noticed the dark and gloomy shadow on Max's face as soon as he arrived.
He tried to smile . . . . but the sadness in his eyes was still too evident not to notice.
“What's wrong?” she wrote down and showed the paper to Max.
Max smiled bitterly. Somehow he wanted to tell the truth but something was holding him back.
“Please tell me . . . .” she wrote down again.
Max just shook his head and tried to dismiss the thought of telling her the truth.
“Nothing's wrong. Don't worry about me,” Max said with a fake smile.
Shin Hye tried to understand Max's decision not to tell her anything. She was somehow feeling hurt seeing him so sad and so lost.
They both sat quietly next to each other. Then all of a sudden . . . Max started to speak . . . .
“Have you ever wondered what really happens after a person dies? Do you believe in heaven?” he asked.
Her heart started to beat very fast. She didn't like the way he talked. She was suddenly feeling a strange chill creeping up in her entire body, as he spoke.
“No . . . . I don't believe in heaven,” she wrote down on her pad. As soon as Max read what she wrote, he immediately laughed . . . . he laughed . . . . but then he also started to cry.
Shin Hye suddenly became concerned. She gently touched Max's shoulder. She wanted to comfort him . . . . and hold him while he wept.
Max looked straight into her eyes. He wanted to be with her . . . He wanted to kiss her . . . He wanted to stay with her forever.
Max drew her closer and suddenly embraced her. He wanted to hold her . . . . even for the last time. Shin Hye was very still. She was suddenly shocked by what Max had done. But she also liked the feeling of being in his arms. How she wished she could stay in her arms forever.
Gently . . . . Max kissed Shin Hye on her forehead.
“I love you . . . .” he gently whispered after he kissed her.
Her heart suddenly skipped a beat. She couldn't believe what she heard. She looked at him . . . . she wanted to look straight into his eyes and see the love she had been longing for.
Max smiled . . . .”Always remember I love you . . . . and I will always be with you,” he suddenly uttered with sadness in his eyes.
She wanted to tell him that she loved him too. She hurriedly took out her pad and pen . . . . and started to write.
“I love you too Max,” she wrote down.
Then as she was about to give him her note . . . . it was only then she noticed that he was already gone. He had already left without even saying goodbye.
She was quite confused. But she just brushed her negative feelings aside. She gently folded her note . . . .
“I can always give him this note . . . . tomorrow,” she said to herself.
The next day . . . .
Shin Hye was very excited. She wanted to give Max her note. She waited patiently . . . . but hours passed and there was still no sign of him. She was already very worried that she suddenly decided to look for him. He had never been late in all the months that they had known each other.
She went to the information section of the hospital and asked where Max's room was.
“I am sorry but Max was already discharged yesterday,” the woman said.
The words started to echo in her ears. Her mind was being filled with so many questions. Somehow she couldn't understand why Max didn't even tell her he was already leaving . . . . She couldn't understand why he had said that he loved her and then just left her.
“Did he truly love me? Or was he just playing around with me?” she asked herself over and over again, as tears fell from her eyes.
Days . . . . weeks . . . . months passed . . . . .
Shin Hye was still in the hospital. She had just undergone a heart transplant. She was born with a heart condition called heart arrhythmia. And it was the main reason why she was in the hospital.
After years of waiting . . . . she had finally found a heart donor.
Shin Hye was quietly sitting on the same bench where she met Max. She was being discharged from the hospital that day. Somehow she was hoping that would see him again before she leaves. She sighed heavily . . . . . she had been asking the hospital staff about Max's address or contact number . . . . But they wouldn't give it to her.
How she wanted to see him one last time. She stared at the spot where Max always sat . . . . Somehow she could imagine him sitting there and smiling at her.
“Where are you Max? I am missing you so badly,” she thought.
Suddenly her heart pounded. She quickly clutched her chest . . . . Then she started to look around . . . She was hoping to see Max. But to her dismay . . . .there was still no sign of him.
Shin Hye slowly stood up. It was time for her to leave. She looked back at the hospital ground one last time . . . . . then she stared at the bench . . . . she imagined that Max was sitting there and waving at her.
With a heavy heart, she turned her back and started to walk away.
“Goodbye . . . . Max. I will always remember you,” she said in her mind as tears flowed down her cheeks.
Ten years later . . . .
“Shin Hye. . . . .” a woman called out.
Shin Hye suddenly stopped painting and placed down the brush she was holding. She was already a famous painter.
“An elderly couple is asking about the painting displayed outside,” her assistant told her.
She just watched and followed her assistant out of the room.
In the shop's display area, she found an elderly couple looking at one of her most prized paintings. It was a portrait of Max . . . . the boy she had never forgotten.
As soon as Shin Hye entered the room, the old woman immediately hugged her. Shin Hye was surprised. She didn't know who the couple were. But somehow as the old woman embraced her . . . . she felt a very strange feeling . . . . a feeling so familiar.
The old woman finally released Shin Hye from her embrace . . . .tears were falling from her eyes.
Shin Hye couldn't understand why the old woman was crying. Then the old woman gently caressed her face.
“You're really beautiful . . . . just like what he told us,” the old woman uttered.
Shin Hye stared at the elderly woman, and then at the elderly man. Somehow she was expecting them to explain what they were talking about.
The old man smiled. “I can see you still remember Max,” he said.
Shin Hye surprisingly looked at Max's portrait hanging on the wall.
“How do you know Max?” she suddenly asked in sign language.
Shin Hye had decided to learn sign language as soon as she was discharged from the hospital. She was still hoping that she would eventually meet Max again someday. And she wanted to finally be able to tell him that she loved him.
“So you've finally learned sign language as well. He told us that you didn't want to learn sign language,” the old woman said.
She was already very curious. “Do you know Max? Please tell me . . . . Where is he?” she asked in sign language.
The old woman stared at Max's painting again.
“How I missed Max . . . . He talked so much about you . . . . He loved you so much,” she said.
Tears were already forming in Shin Hye's eyes. She had missed Max for more than ten years. She still loved him and how she wanted to see him again
It was the main reason why she made so many paintings of him. She wanted to always remember him. And somehow seeing his face on the canvas eased some of the loneliness she was feeling.
“He's been dead for ten years . . . but I still can't accept the fact that he's gone,” the old woman continued to say as she stared at his son's painting.
“He's been dead for ten years . . . .” the words were like a bomb that suddenly exploded in front of Shin Hye.
She suddenly felt very weak that she fell down on her knees. Her mind had totally gone blank. She had been living the passed ten years for main goal purpose of seeing him again. And now . . . . she suddenly learns that the person she had been loving . . . searching . . . . and waiting for has been dead all along. It was too much to bear . . . . It was too sickening . . . . It was too painful . . . .
Shin Hye wanted to scream . . . . She had been spending the past ten years in vain. The man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with was already dead. There was no way she could ever tell him that she loved him too.
Shin Hye cried . . . . She cried so hard that her whole body was trembling. How she wished she would die right at that moment. The pain she was feeling was too unbearable. How she wanted the pain to go away.
The old woman hugged Shin Hye as she cried.
“Oh my god! You still don't know that he's already dead? He died of leukemia . . . . ten years ago. . . . a few months after he was discharged from the hospital,” the old woman said.
Shin Hye stared at the old woman with a bewildered look in her eyes. She thought she was already going crazy with everything that she was hearing.
“Then I guess . . . . you still don't know that he is also the one who donated his heart to you. . . . I'm sorry . . . . . I'm sorry dear . . . .” the old woman said as she gently hugged Shin Hye tighter.
With the last words that the old woman said Shin Hye finally cried uncontrollably.
Shin Hye was quietly sitting on the same hospital bench where she had met Max ten years go. She was clutching her chest . . . . Now she knew who her new heart really belonged to. After her heart transplant, there were times that she would wonder who her heart formerly belonged to . . . . if it was a girl or a boy . . . . . what kind of a person he or she was . . . . if he or she was nice or friendly . . . .
Now she knew her heart belonged to Max . . . . the only man in his life . . . . Her first . . . . and last love.
She touched her chest again . . . . her heart was somehow starting to beat slowly.
Tears started to fall from her eyes . . . . one by one.
“Before I didn't believe in heaven . . . . But now . . . . I am hoping and praying that there is really such a place . . . .I want to see you again Max . . . .I didn't even get the chance to tell you that I love you . . . . I love you Max. Don't worry . . . . I know you've been waiting so long. . . . Just wait for me a little bit longer . . . .I'm finally going to see you again . . . . And this time . . . . we will never be separated again,” she said in her mind while tears started to fall from her eyes.
She was already feeling very weak. The drugs she had taken were already taking effect.
The sun shone brightly and the leaves from the trees started to fall as Shin Hye's slowly weakening body finally laid down on the bench.
“I love you Max . . . . Just wait for me . . . . I'll be there soon . . . .” Shin Hye thought as she slowly closed her eyes.